Monthly Archives: June 2006

Top 5 Destinations in Thailand

In the Bangkok Post today, there was a free advertising supplement celebrating the 30th anniversary of Jetour here in Thailand. In their brochure they detailed their choice of the top 5 destinations in Thailand. I thought I would type them up and share them with you.


  1. The Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha
  2. Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha
  3. Vimanmek Palace
  4. Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn
  5. The Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
  6. Yaowarat – Chinatown
  7. Chatuchak Weekend Market
  8. Pak Khlong Talad – Flower Market
  9. Phahurat – Indian Market
  10. Democracy Monument
  11. Khao San Road
  12. Lumpini Park
  13. Jim Thompson’s House
  14. Thai Boxing at Lumpini Stadium
  15. Cultural Shows at Sala Chalermkrung Theatre


  1. Jomtien Beach
  2. The Million Year Stone Park and Crocodile Farm
  3. Pattaya Elephant Village
  4. The Monkey Training Center
  5. Koh Krok
  6. Underwater World Pattaya
  7. Cabaret shows

Hua Hin

  1. Klai Kangwon Palace
  2. Hua Hin Railway Station
  3. Hua Hin Beach
  4. Pa La-lu Waterfall
  5. Koh Singtoe
  6. Khao Takiap Vantage Point
  7. Maruekhathaiyawan Palace


  1. Phuket Town
  2. Tha Chatchai magrove forest
  3. Wat Chalong
  4. The Viewpoint
  5. Koh Kaeo
  6. Kata Beach
  7. Karon Beach

Chiang Mai

  1. Doi Suthep and Wat Phra That
  2. Phu Phing Palace – Royal Winter Palace
  3. Wiang Kum Kam lost city
  4. Wat Phra Sing
  5. Night Bazaar
  6. Tha Ton village
  7. San Kamphaeng hot springs

Do you have any places you want to add to these lists? I can think of a few.

The Story of Khun Chang Khun Phan

The famous Thai epic “Khun Chang Khun Phan” has been around for hundreds of years. No-one knows for certain when it was first written. However, the events depicted in this classic story are believed to have taken place around 1500. The story was passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that King Rama II, King Rama III and other prestigious poets of the time, decided to collect all accounts of this story and then write a definitive version.

The following synopsis of the story is illustrated with photographs I took of the wall painting at Wat Pa Lelai in Suphan Buri.


Phlai Kaeo (later Khun Phan), Khun Chang, and Nang Phim (later Nang Wanthong) are childhood friends in Suphan Buri. Phlai Kaeo grows up to be handsome, clever and brave, but he is poor because the King executed his father. He ordained as a novice monk so that he could be educated at the local temple. He excels in martial arts and develops a love of magic. Khun Chang is his opposite: bald, ugly, and crass but very rich.

By the age of 16, Nang Phim is the most beautiful girl in Suphan Buri. She meets novice Phlai at Wat Pa Lelai during the Songkran festival, and they have a passionate courtship. But, Khun Chang is also smitten by Phim and tries to win her through his wealth. Love triumphs. Phlai Kaeo leaves the temple and they get married, even though Phim can already see that he is a great womanizer. Only two days together after the marriage, Phlai is called up to lead an army on a campaign in the north.


Phim falls sick from pining. The abbot of Wat Pa Lelai changes her name to Nang Wanthong to revive her luck. Khun Chang takes the opportunity of Phlai’s absence to spread rumours that Phlai Kaeo has died in battle and tempts Wanthong’s mother with his wealth. Wanthong’s mother consents to the marriage. Wanthong resists at first, but soon comes to enjoy a comfortable life and an attentive, faithful husband.

Meanwhile, Phlai Kaeo wins a magnificent victory in the north, and returns with his new fame as a great warrior. He also returns with a new wife, Laothong, who was a prize of the battle. The King gives him the title Khun Phan. When he reaches Suphan Buri he sees what has happened and commands Wanthong to return to his household. Wanthong and Laothong have a jealous quarrel. Things don’t work out and Khun Phan departs for Kanchanaburi and Wanthong stays with Khun Chang.


But, before long, Khun Phan is separated from Laothong by the King as punishment for skipping royal service. He equips himself with a magic sword, a magnificent horse and a powerful spirit, Golden Child. Then he comes to Suphan Buri and kidnaps Wanthong from Khun Chang’s house in the dead of night. They flee deep into the forest. But Khun Phan kills two royal officials sent after them, and so becomes a wanted man. When Wanthong becomes pregnant, he decides to give himself up.

At the trial, he clears himself, but then angers the King by asking for the return of his second wife, Laothong. He is jailed. Wanthong visits and looks after him. But then Khun Chang captures her and takes her back to his home. There she gives birth to Phlai Ngam, a son with Khun Phan.

Khun Chang is jealous of Khun Phan’s son and tries to do away with him by abandoning him in the forest. He survives, but Wanthong decides to entrust Phlai Ngam to a monastery. However, a while later, Phlai Ngam runs away and is brought up by his grandmother in Kanchanaburi.

Khun Phan suffers in prison for many years. He is released when the King needs him to lead another military campaign in the north. His adolescent son, Phlai Ngam, joins him on the campaign. Phlai Ngam starts to follow in his amorous footsteps by winning the hand of Simala, the beautiful daughter of the governor of Phichit. Khun Phaen is again victorious in battle. The King is so pleased that he not only restores Khun Phan to royal favour, but bestows on Phlai Ngam the title of Phra Wai and two wives: his beloved Simala, and a daughter of the defeated King of Chiang Mai.

At the wedding, Phra Wai and Khun Chang get in a drunken quarrel, which ends in a court case. Khun Chang loses and faces punishment, but Phra Wai appeals for him to be freed.

Khun Chang petitions the King to regain Wanthong as his wife. At the hearing, the King insists that Wanthong cannot have two husbands and must choose between them. But she cannot because each has meaning for her in different ways. The king loses his temper and condemns her to death. Phra Wai appeals and wins a reprieve at the last minute. He gallops off on his horse to stop the execution. But, the executioner, on seeing the approaching horse, thinks the King is angry with him for delaying the execution. So, he immediately beheads Wanthong.

Baby’s Day Out: at Pattaya

Participants from all over the world come to Bangkok for conferences, seminars and training courses. When the event is for a short duration of one week, a visit to Pattaya is a must. When the stay extends beyond a fortnight, visits are organised to Kanchanaburi,Ayuthya and Chiang Mai. Some enterprising participants of course go to the island of Phuket.

A trip to a near by island

A visit to Pattaya is an one day affair and Thai hospitality is at its best. An airconditioned coach is provided and the participants are always under the watchful eyes of the coordinator. The journey is as pleasant as the destination. On the way you stop for filling in a highway gas station. It is less a filling station and more a mini-marketing complex. You have all types of ice cream, banana and other fruits and all items of stationery.

On the way also one finds markets by the road side where you could buy souvenirs and trinkets.

Earlier a visit to Pattaya meant relaxing by the Jomtien or Pattaya Beaches and ambling in the township. Now of course many types of adventure sports are common, especially speed boat surfing and gliding.

Two participants: from Indonesia and Nepal.

Visiting the islands nearby has become a big attraction. The food in the island is cheap. Lot many people swim in the shallow waters. In the evening, it is rime to say good bye and prepare for the return trip. The coordinators job is to take a roll call and ensure that every participant is back in the coach.

He relaxes only when his wards are dropped back in the hotels in Bangkok. The babies’ day out, so to say has ended with out any untoward incident.

My First Thai Cooking Experience

My Thai Cooking Experience

For Christmas this year my girlfriend and I decided to get each other Thai cooking courses. The only problem was where, there are just too many in Bangkok to even think about any filtering process. It’s a case of knowing of a reputable place or going through word of mouth.

For Liz it was easy, she wanted to learn a vegetarian Thai cooking course because we eat so much meat, more pork anyone??? Our favourite vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok is May Kai Dee, who has 3 premises around Banglamphu so it was easy for us to get to. We used to eat there about once a fortnight and they run an established cooking course. For 1000B you can cook 10 dishes all of which appear on the menu. Of course you can substitute meat in any of the dishes but they are delicious in their original form so why bother, we know enough ways to cook meat.

For me it was a little more complex, I wanted to cook exclusively fish. As I mentioned we know enough ways to cook meat, and Liz had the veggie dishes wrapped up, so I started asking around, no-one seemed to know of a course that would deal only in fish, all the courses I enquired at dealt with the Thai staples, green curry and such like. I was considering a compromise when we were sat in May Kai Dees again one night when the waitress asked about Liz’s course and was she happy. I just happened to mention that I was also looking for a course but couldn’t find one. The waitress ran out the back and came back 5 minutes later asking what I specifically wanted to cook, as Mays sister would be happy to teach me. So I went out the back and had a chat with her and set up a date for the following Saturday.

It transpired that Mays sister used to be a chef in a 5star hotel in Bangkok until she had a back injury, gave it up and now only cooks in Mays in her spare time. I turned up at 9am on the agreed date and my only disappointment was that Mays sister had already gone to the market and bought the fish, but it was not a major thing.

So down to the cooking. We had a red snapper (pla tubtim), sea bass (pla kapong), 3 little fish (pla doo), some squid (pla meuk) and a catfish (pla duk) already bbq’d.
Menu:- Pla Nung Khing (Red Snapper steamed with Ginger)
Pla Kapong Nung Manao (Steamed Sea Bass w/ chilli, lemon and Garlic)
Chuchi Pla Doo (Red Curry and 3 little fish)
Phad Phet Pla Doo (Catfish curry)
Tom Yum Pla Meuk (spicy sour soup w/ squid)

The first thing was to steam the snapper after rubbing it with some salt, sugar, mushroom sauce and a special mix of coriander root, garlic and black pepper pounded in a mortar and pestle and covering it in shredded ginger and shittake mushrooms and carrot.

Next up we steamed the sea bass with the juice of 3 limes, a whole head of garlic, roughly chopped, 15 chillis, 2tbsp fish sauce, a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt.

The big fish done we covered them in coriander and left them. Now the more complicated recipes, which are probably too long to go into here but if any one would like them send me an email to and I will be happy to oblige. So we cooked the pla doo next, followed by the catfish and finally the squid which only took minutes to do.

The cooking was finished by about 1pm and May was busy doing her vegetarian course for 3 people. At first I didn’t know what they would make of all this fish sullying their veggies, but it turns out they were really jealous and kept hovering around my station. Well all in all we had 7 whole fish and about 5-7 squid, way too much for me and my girlfriend to handle. So all of Mays children were running around and the people from the veggie course all joined in and we all chowed down to a fine lunch. The cost for this exclusive course 1300B, a bargain for 5 amazing dishes, the time it took and the general family atmosphere. The kitchen doubles as a front room with sofas, TV and school books and toys everywhere and we cooked on any available surface, something I have to deal with at home so quite enjoy.

If anyone is interested in cooking fish I can’t recommend anywhere better, if you go to May Kai Dees restaurant on Samsen Road. Go to the Gullivers end of Khao San and cross the road, turn right and carry straight on, get to the junction at the end of the road and cross over, go over the little humpbacked bridge and you are on Samsen Road. Go past the internet café and pawn shop, past the famous Adhere the 13th blues bar and about 5 shops further on. You will have to ask about the fish course, but sit yourself down and try some of the veggie fare first its aroy mak.

Now we live in the sticks and have a kitchen to ourselves we can cook to our hearts content. A kilo of shrimp costs 140B (£2), a live Snapper about 40B (80p) beheaded and gutted before your eyes. We are eating in most nights and it is all delicious veg and fish from the local market, with a bit of chicken thrown in. Maybe now I can do something about that belly I bought………

Chuchi Pla DooPla Nung KhingEverything I cooked

Khun Chang’s Thai Style House


Today, on 26th June, we are celebrating the birthday of one of Thailand’s greatest poets: Sunthorn Phu. Although he was born in the late 18th Century, his work is still influential even today. I have already talked a number of times about his work. (I will give you some links to these blogs in a moment.) Today I want to introduce a story that he wrote together with King Rama II, King Rama II and other great poets of the time. It is called “The Story of Khun Chang Khun Phan”. This is an important piece of work that you should read in order to better understand life and culture in Thailand. It is a story of love and war, drama and horror, and love and tragedy. It is probably a forerunner of all modern soap operas.


The story is based in Suphan Buri and other locations, and when I was there recently, I was excited to visit a replica of Khun Chang’s house. This traditional style house can be seen in the grounds of Wat Pa Lelai. The house is free to visit and you can wander around the rooms inside. Also in the temple grounds, you can see a series of wall paintings which depict scenes from this great epic. The attention to detail is amazing and there is a lot you can learn by studying these paintings. Tomorrow I am going to give you a synopsis of “The Story of Khun Chang Khun Phan” and illustrate with the pictures I took at this temple.

Some of my other blogs about Sunthon Phu:

* How to be a Good Wife

* How to be a Thai Gentleman